0aaoiseaaa.jpgAs global warming is at the top of the agenda, worldleaders are askedto act immediately, from forced recycling to carbon offsetting and celebrities launching a 10-year campaign to make environmentally friendly living fashionable.

Are these efforts really improving the environment? What is eco-friendly living? When we live in a period where the worst climate disaster is about to happen, how can we live the ultimate green lifestyle?

Extreme Green Guerrillas, Michiko Nitta's graduation project at RCA, Design Interactions, brings the current green lifestyle to the extreme. Her "manifesto" looks at 3 important areas of our daily life: communication, food and death.

The extreme guerilla adepts form a network of amateur self-sustaining people who have shortened their lifespan to sustain the ultimate green lifestyle. Whilst going to extreme lengths to protect the environment, they try to enjoy a decadent quality of life by utilizing urban waste and biosystem. This consists of embracing emerging technology to develop the ultimate green solution.


They try to avoid being tied to big corporations and using electronic devices to send emails and sms. E.G.G. are also against conventional posting service, as it leaves a great CO2 footprint. Instead, they resort to A.M.S., the "Animal Messaging Service". Michiko discovered that many animals have already been tagged by scientists, to follow migrations for example. The RFID tags would be hacked and used by the guerilla to carry messages around. Of course not all animals are very reliable and swift. The herring gets eaten very easily so sending a message via herring will be priced very low; the blackpoll warbler is extremely lazy, he flies only 3 hours per day so they are cheap ones as well. Now pigeons and whales do their job more seriously and way faster so using them is more pricey.

The designer had a look at food and the mistakes we make in our quest to be eco-friendly, confusing being healthy or buying fair trade products with green activity. We want to eat organic steak but only the "noble" parts, not the head of the pig, nor offals which means wasting quality meat. So what would an extreme green food be like?

EGG breakfast: 0kg emission

Extreme green guerrilla's food has to be resourced from existing materials within the local area. A solution is to embrace the roadkill diet but that is not really appealing, is it?

Pigeon + Quail = Piguail

A solution might be to modify the urban vermin, such as pigeons and rats and cross it with animals whose meat is a delicacy. One example is an animal called Piguail, which is hybrid of Pigeon (vermin) and Quail (gourmet). Or the Rattit, half rat, half rabbit. They would survive in urban areas like vermins but they would be yummy like a rabbit (can't believe i'm writing these lines, i'm a vegetarian.)

Rat + Rabbit = Rattit

Michiko consulted with a scientist and it seems that rabbit and rat come from the same family and have very similar bone structures. Creating a piguail would be much more tricky as the quail belongs to the phaesant family, not the pigeon one. Besides you cannot control the way an hybrid animal might look like, or taste like.

While looking at death she founds that the Earth is too crowded for sustainability, therefore premature death is the ultimate gesture practiced by the extreme green guerrilla.

When a member of EGG becomes twenty years old, his/her ears are pierced with a euthanasing earring, as a part of the ceremony E.G.G.s celebrate when this person reaches adulthood. The earring will be permanent and contains muscle relaxant and a lethal drug.

Throughout their life the inner core of the earring rotates day by day. On their 40th birthday, the muscle relaxant and lethal drug are released through a hypodermic needle, leading to peaceful death. By promoting a young death, extreme green guerrillas can sustain the ultimate green life. If you know your life will last only forty years, how would you plan it?

Michiko's point is not to say that this is the future she wants. Her role is more to provoke in a witty way, have people question their lifestyle and get the debate on green issues going.

Sponsored by:

Anna Dumitriu is the Director of the Institute of Unnecessary Research and an artist whose work is deeply grounded into scientific research. I met her a few weeks ago at the Mobile Music Workshop in Amsterdam where she was presenting Bio-Tracking, a mobile phone based exhibition using GPS and a software called Socialight which enabled the placement of virtual sticky notes around various locations in Brighton.


Anna sampled various locations in the city for bacteria and moulds, revealing this unseen world to us through digital micrographs. Luciana Haill, Ian Helliwell Ollie Glass and Juliet Kac created a series of sound works to accompany the images. Microbiologist John Paul wrote scientific text descriptions of the microbes.

The use of GPS, to map the locations where the microbiological swabs were taken, brought together the microscopic and the macroscopic, drawing a thread between the satellites orbiting the earth and the bacteria at our feet.

Visitors could download the software and wander around the sites receiving SMS, sound files and images to their phones. Due to the nature of Socialight the exhibition is still live and can be viewed now.

I was so impressed by Anna's enthousiasm and the sense of poetry she brings to an invisible world which i would otherwise find as exciting as a citrus juicer that i asked her to give us more details about her work:

The Bio-tracking Walk Source

How did you get interested in bacteria?

I've always been fascinated with microscopic forms, I think from childhood, but about 12 years ago a key area of research for me was the notion of immortality, that led me to an interest in cell biology, looking at immortalised cell lines such as HeLa Cells and I was invited to do a short residency at St Georges Hospital in London in their Clinical Genetics lab, I became increasingly interested in the differences between our media generated notions about science and the deeper story we don't normally get to hear about. The world of normal flora microbiology is really astonishing, to me it's sublime, there are more bacteria on the end of your finger than there are people in the world, I can't really get my head around that.

You told me (if i remember well) that you collaborated with scientists to develop your project. How do you think they perceive your work? Were they interested in your experiments?

Microbiologists seem to love my work because I am studying the things that they don't get to study. You don't become a microbiologist without the same fascination that I have for the microbial world but because of funding and other restrictions they aren't able to study the normal flora. Clinical Microbiology studies that 1% or so of bacteria that can make us ill, the ones I study are considered to be 'of no commercial or medical interest', it's the needle in a haystack thing, there might be something in that haystack worth looking scientifically at but you'd have to go through a huge amount of hay first, it won't produce the quick results or the scientific papers needed to secure funding.

0aabact56.jpgEpistemologically it's an interesting issue, where do we draw the line about what is studied? Money draws that line. But art is judged in other ways by funders, a questioning of our epistemology can be an important issue, the aesthetics of the work, the way the public is engaged is important (in terms of Arts Council England who fund alot of my work), so I can be funded to look at this area as an artist. In terms of scientific support I've been working with Eastbourne District General Hospital (through Arts in Healthcare) and The Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton as well as a number of other collaborators and institutions. The use of digital media is also important to me (I'm looking at looking computer modelling of bacteria and artificial life technology) and I am currently Artist in Residence at The Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics at Sussex University, one of the leading Artificial Life research groups in the world, which is an amazing experience.

I should mention here that I am absolutely an artist, I don't consider myself a scientist, or a hybrid. My relationship to science is that I would rather not collaborate (actually I am not sure if that's entirely true), but what I mean is that I don't feel an artist is fully able to respond to scientific information without a proper knowledge of that subject. I am very hands on, I do all my own lab work (to me it's part of the making) and I am studying clinical microbiology as part of my (Fine Art) PhD, so rather than a superficial engagement with the concepts (a few chats with a scientist where an artist hears about some 'cool' ideas and goes about representing them) I'm basically trying to understand the issues and concepts from the inside and respond to them as an artist in the most informed way. There are equally valid arguements for remaining an outsider, I accept that, and interesting work is being made in that way but it's not how I want to go about it, not something that would achieve the results I am looking for.

I feel very strongly about engaging with the widest possible audience and use my skills to get these issues and concepts out to the public, I don't like the way that scientific language almost seems designed to be incomprehensible (or incommensurable), I believe anyone has the ability to understand anything if it is explained properly. Creating threads and networks of knowldege fascinates me, like bringing crocheters and scientists together to crochet a bed cover based on the light microscopy of the bacteria on my bed. It's a learning curve for everyone but the results, in terms of both the personal exchanges that take place and the resulting art object it's very worthwhile.

0aaanna3.jpg 0annna6.jpg
Bio-tracking: Using the GPS and Playing the sound works

How much in general do you think that the science world can learn from the art world and vice-versa?

As far as I'm concerened the "claim to truth" that science has made since the Enlightenment is really now open to question. Notions of rational empiricism seem to be under attack as unachievable. The phenomenological relationship of the experimenter to the experiment is now becoming increasingly key. The ability of art to express multiple layers of meaning, from the analytical and the philosophical to the emotional makes it an ideal method to investigate knowledge within this new paradigm, acting, I believe, as a form of meta-knowledge.

Thanks Anna!

Thought that nothing can beat the Hulger? The Strijk-O-Foon (which i'd roughly translate as Iron-O-Phone) works only for Siemens mobile phones though. Plug the iron, wait for a call (or ring a friend) and get the Strijk-O-Foon experience in its full hot glory.

A work by Jelle de Bruijn.

Via Squeaky from.

We had 3 yesterday: TokTek, alias Tom Verbruggen, The HandyDandy and Cathy van Eck's Hearing Sirens.

0handydan1.jpg 0handydand7.jpg

The Handydandy (Bernhard Bauch, Florian Waldner, Gordan Savicic, Julia Staudach, Luc Gross, Nicolaj Kirisits) made a pretty fun gig by playing music on their mobile phones as if they were rock guitars. The phones, used only as interfaces, are connected via Bluetooth to a computer network, a virtual opposite to the "human network" music-band.

0toktoek1.jpg 0toktekk2.jpg

TokTek's performance blew everyone's mind. The artist explores new modes of interaction in live performance. He structures the unbridle clicks and cuts of his circuit bend gadgets to a fragile disturbance. Sampling with a joystick Tom creates unlogic dynamic compositions. Started by playing an old vinyl of lessons of french, then went wild with buttons, keyboards and knobs, later grabbed a joystick, then had a go at a guitar, kid's toys, etc.

0moedercak.jpgBy looking for information about Tom Verbruggen online i discovered another of his work called Moederkoek, which translated is mother-cake but refers in English to the placebo. Tom performs while his mother bakes a cake in a self-assembled kitchen. Tom samples his mum's baking and the sounds its produces in real-time to realize an improvised composition. At the end of the performance, the cake is baked and served to the audience.

He also creates installations such as the Crack-Canvas. Using STEIM crackle box hardware, the artist has created paintings that produce sound. Each painting can produce sound by itself but when connected with other paintings forms a ‘painting orchestra’. By connecting cables between the paintings, the sound changes, while the cables length, colour and form, form a drawing on the wall or in the space the paintings are hanging.

0crackcanc.jpg 0crackleca.jpg
Crack Canvas and Crackle Canvas

In the live version of the ‘Crackle-Canvas’, Tom invites the public to grab the cables and make their own compositions.

Tom Verbruggen is part of the New Interfaces for Performances programme.

Images of The HandyDandy performance and of TokTek's.

Several posters were presented at the Mobile Music Workshop yesterday afternoon, a good opportunity to discover new projects and have a chat with their author.


Pocket Gamelan (PDF), developed by Greg Schiemer and Mark Havryliv, couldn't make it to Amsterdam on time (seems to be somewhere in the caring hands of the post) but that won't prevent me from mentioning it. The interactive musical interface allows non-expert performers to create microtonal music using bluetooth-enabled mobile phones. Players swing the handsets on the end of a cord in a circular trajectory. As the phone is swung it produces audible artefacts such as Doppler shift and chorusing which are generated as a bi-product of movement. The device works like a network of operations in which melodies and the speed at which they’re played can be altered.

Pocket Gamelan
, draws on Schiemer's "Tupperware Gamelan" instruments of the 70s and 80s. The custom-made electronic instruments, housed in plastic kitchenware, were designed for non-expert players and used in dance and performance (via.)

Video 1 and 2.

Related: the 1999 performance Improvisation for Two Altered Telephones.

Just back from a trip to Kreuzberg where i discovered an exhibition space called Ballhaus Naunynstraße. They are showing until tomorrow (April 30, from 8 p.m to 9 pm.) three sound installations which, coupled with some really nice falafels like they do only in that neighbourhood, made my Sunday afternoon.

As you enter the building you're greeted by 17 Hippies - Das Hip-O-Phon, a sound sculpture by Christopher Blenkinsop and Klaus Wagner. The wooden staircase that leads to the gallery is occupied by organ pipes up to 20 meters in length which create sound with material from the German band 17 Hippies.


Up the stairs, turn left and enter the room of O Telephone, an 8 channel sound installation developed by Berlin-based Canadian artist Don Ritter.

Six modified 1960’s telephones are installed in circle on black pedestals within a darkened room. They randomly ring, each with its own distinctive sound. If you pick up a phone that is ringing, a powerful yoga-like “om? is heard through the handset and through the speaker located where the dial of the phone used to be.

If other people answer other ringing phones, the resulting “om? sounds will pan through all the answered phones. Like the ringing, each phone has its own "om" voice, some male, other female. The telephones will eventually begin a composition comprised of the ringing and “om? sounds if they are not answered by viewers. The best way to enjoy the piece is to stand in the middle of the circle of phones, then it feels like the sounds are turning around you. There are 35 different voices. The artist actually used the voice of the people in his yoga class when he lived in New York.


I liked the installation for two reasons: first of all because the old phones, though modified, keep on being beautiful and even get a mysterious touch in the process. The experience was quite engaging as well. I was alone in the room going from one phone to the other, not sure i was understanding what was happening at first (that's a bad habit i have: i try to play then i read the accompanying notice) but totally enjoying it.

0tanzincshuih.jpgDown another staircase, turn left again to interact with Ingo Kniest's Tanz in Sicht, a series of life-size portraits individual taken out of the dance floor to pose for the artist in a mobile photo studio.

Sensors track your movements, and according to them, trigger pre-programmed audio loops, turning the space into a living soundscape. Observers of Kniest's shock-frozen portraits become the directors of new repetitive beats. Relationships here are reversed. The ecstatic dancers are captured utterly still; the visitors become the ever-moving mass.

Other art works using old-style telephones: the Four Ophones, Improvisation for Two Altered Telephones, Phones hanging from the ceiling; the Telephone Sheep.

 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  |  9  |  10 
sponsored by: